Troops will see an average 2.5 percent BAH increase in 2019

Service members will see a little bit more change in their pockets next year if they live off base.

Basic allowance for housing (BAH) rates will increase by an average of 2.5 percent in 2019, the Defense Department said in a news release.

The rate is a  larger uptick than troops saw in 2018, which translated to an average of $10 a month. This year, each service member will get about $66 to $149 more a month depending on where he or she lives. The amount each service member will receive depends on his or her location and some will get more or less than the average range.

The new rates will go into place on Jan. 1, 2019.

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“Housing cost data are collected annually for more than 300 military housing areas in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii,” Defense officials said in a statement. “Median current market rent and average comprise the total housing cost for each military housing area and are included in the BAH computation. Total housing costs are developed for six housing profiles in each military housing area. Basic Allowance for Housing rates are then calculated for each pay grade, both with and without dependents.”

DoD estimated it will spend $21 billion on about one million service members for BAH in 2019.

BAH is supposed to cover 95 percent of estimated housing costs for service members, leaving the troops to cover 5 percent of their living expenses.

However, over the past few years, lawmakers and policy analysts questioned if DoD should provide such a comprehensive BAH benefit.

In 2017, the Senate added a provision to the defense authorization bill that would reimburse troops for their actual housing costs, instead of giving them a market-based flat payment. The provision was ultimately pulled from the bill.

Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office recently came out with a report that states if DoD only covered 80 percent of service members’ costs it could save nearly $15 billion over 10 years.

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